Over the years, Ancelottery has gained a reputation for being a glass-half-empty kind of a blog. Misanthropic. Pessimistic. Even wildly cynical, some may say. It’s a notoriety achieved by being an A-league blog that on face value, doesn’t seemingly like the A-league all that much. A site which, given any chance, will take any opportunity to formulate a tenuous, yet caustic, whinge about Etihad Stadium’s over-zealous security, TV’s ‘expert’ analysts (sic), the static queues for dishevelled half-time sausage rolls or; Leigh Broxham.
Imagine then, Dear Reader, the lack of enthusiasm we displayed last week at the prospect of watching the league’s most under-achieving team entertain Australia’s most underwhelming team. We simply could wait.
To our, and pretty much everyone else’s surprise, a resurgent Melbourne Victory not only outplayed the Mariners, but also held on to win against them on Friday night. This, the very latest in a long line of must-win, make-or-break, do-or-die, so-important-that-FoxSports-have-insisted-on-pre-match-FOX-FIELD-super-awesome-graphics-with-extra-Andy-Harper clash.
“I’m chuffed, but I’m not getting carried away,” cheered Jim Magilton post-game. “I like energy in my team and people who take care of the ball and youthful exuberance,” the Norn Oirish coach explained, as Tom Pondeljak limped sheepishly towards the door.
Of course most fans will now conclude that Victory’s much improved performance means that Magilton is a football genius and that Craig Foster should be filling the kettle and asking Jim if he takes sugar. But whilst The Ancelottery loves a happy ending, we suspect that this story is far from over. In the meantime, we’ll reserve judgement and not get “carried away,” but instead be thankful that for one brief moment, Melbourne Victory FC reminded us that we do, on occasion, actually like the game of Association Football.
Next weekend Victory face another must-win, make-or-break, do-or-die, etc., etc. test of their top six credentials when we face a Brisbane Roar side now firing after Bratwurst loving, Thomas Broich recovered from heel thwack. The Ancelottery would usually predict that the boys in blue might just park their air-conditioned 60-seater team bus in front of the Suncorp goals and wait for Sayed Mohamed Adnan to bore his teammates to death with a series of sideways passes to Ivan Franjic and Matt Smith. But then, that’d be a tad pessimistic.
Meanwhile… over in Morwell… Victory’s Old Boys are doing a very good job of proving that they aren’t, as some people would believe, a “one man team,” by failing to win eight consecutive games with a variety of hopeless individuals out on the park. Speaking to The Age, Carpenters fan and Heart Football Manager, John Didulica completed Heart’s fine transmogrification from go-getting free-wheeling Championship chasers to desperate bottled-it knee-jerk specialists, by pleading, “It’s no use wrapping them (Fred and Matt Thompson) in cotton wool and saying we will save them for a rainy day. It’s a rainy day now.”
How times change.
Whichever way you look at it, there’s been a lot of hot air radiating from Bundoora this week. And we’re not talking about this dubiously named hair stylist.
First off, an SBS Exclusive! screamed at us in bold type that Morwell Heart CEO, Scott Munn, “scoffed at jibes” from Geoff Lord that the club should pack up their quaint family photos, mismatched cutlery and John Aloisi into some big brown boxes, call in the removalists and ship off to Geelong.
“It’s just Geoff being Geoff. What he says is of no great consequence to us,” Munn retorted, and proved it by only writing a 500-word thesis on the subject. The affable Munn maintains that the trickle of fickle fans who switched allegiances from Victory to Heart was minimal, and backs it up with “some extensive research done by La Trobe University.” Which is of course not a conflict of interest at all, given that Heart definitely do not pay rent to call La Trobe’s Bundoora campus ‘home away from Morwell’.
But thankfully Munn proved that he wouldn’t be drawn into a childish, tit for tat, slanging match by stating, “we won’t be sacking our football manager or coach, or chairman, or CEO just to change the philosophy of the club,” before going on to explain that his dog had eaten his homework and that he couldn’t do PE today because his dog had eaten his homework.
Then a few days later Chairman Peter Sidwell declared (via The Herald Sun) that the future is “red and white,” that Heart want to become Melbourne’s new “powerhouse” and that they’ve already “overtaken Victory in some departments” - presumably referring to their stadium safety department, their mascot department and their film-making department.
All of which followed on from The Age asking us to “show some respect” to Morwell Heart due to the “achievements of the team.” “Victory cannot continue to operate as if we don’t exist,” Football Operations Manager, John Didulica cried. “I don’t think they can ignore us any more,” he tearfully spluttered, as passers-by wondered who he was talking to.
Then yesterday, The Herald Sun, informed us that Clint Bolton isn’t getting “carried away” by his side’s heady third placed position, but has set his teammates some modest targets for the rest of the season: win the Championship, control global population, cure cancer and achieve world peace.
Bolton went on to praise Victory reject, Aziz Behich, by claiming that he, “usually plays well against Victory and thrives on that situation,” obviously forgetting the first ever derby where only Behich’s petulant red card saved him from further performance related embarrassment. The video of which you unfortunately won’t find over at Behich’s rather self-indulgent representation on the World-Wide Web. Shame.
Finally, even notorious 80s film baddie, Rutger Worm, got in on the pre-derby hot air act, ratcheting up the hype by arguing that, ”I feel we are the stronger as a team.” The Dutch winger managed to go one further to state that, “our coach has only one thing in his mind,” before swallow diving to the turf, arms aloft, claiming for a penalty.
HMS Muscat, not adverse to his own discreet challenges on the opposition, acted to diffuse the slanging match: “We have been accused of ignoring them, but it’s not about that,” he said. “If we have (ignored them) it’s because we don’t think about… erm… who are we talking about?” - he didn’t go on to say.
Victory fans, players and officials would do well to heed the advice of Sir Alex Ferguson. At the start of the season, when discussing Man City, the Scot reasoned, “you know when you’ve got a noisy neighbour and they keep the radio on all the time? What can you do? You can complain to the council, you can bang on their wall, you can go to their door, but they still keep their music on. So what do you do? You get used to it.”
The bottom line is Heart need Victory more than Victory need Heart. If anyone’s in any doubt about that fact, take a look at their average home attendance (minus the two derbies) and their latest advertising campaign. So Heart, maybe Victory aren’t ignoring you? Maybe they just don’t like you, your radio or your music?